Chandler PD has a history of ‘evolving,’ chief says - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler PD has a history of ‘evolving,’ chief says

April 26th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler PD has a history of ‘evolving,’ chief says

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

Other police departments around the country are now looking to reform their departments because of the fallout of the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

Chandler’s police chief says his department is well ahead of its peers.

“The term ‘reform’ is not alien to the Chandler Police Department,” Chief Sean Duggan told a Chamber of Commerce audience during a panel discussion on police reform held at Chandler-Gilbert Community College on April 8. “In fact, reform – or as I like to call it ‘evolution’ – … that is part of the fabric of our organization and has been for years.”

Duggan said his department is constantly learning and evolving. He pointed out they were among one of the first to fully embrace the use of body cameras, which they’ve been using for nine years.

“This is not something that we were compelled to do, a court didn’t order us to do this,” Duggan said. “Nine years ago, we recognized the technology of body-worn cameras and how it collects compelling evidence, how it my help deescalate a situation, how it holds people accountable.”

He said it also helps the department to prosecute cases faster.

Duggan said there have been other changes. After the Michael Brown death in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, this department made it an official policy that any police officer who uses deadly force must do all they can to provide aid. Another change is duty to intervene.

“If you see an officer next to you doing something inappropriately, it is your expectation policy to intervene and stop that action,” Duggan said. “This is five years before George Floyd was murdered.”

City Council is currently considering its next fiscal budget and one of the proposals being discussed for the Police Department is the addition of five mental health professionals.

“It’s still in its infancy stages, but what we want to do is to take some of the burden away from our officers on the street and train up a highly-skilled, dedicated unit to help respond to some of those mental health calls,” Duggan said after the meeting.

Anthony Cano, 17, was killed on Jan. 2, 2021 after being pulled over for having a broken light on his bicycle. The teen decided to flee and a chase began through a park. During the chase a gun Cano was carrying fell to the ground. Officer Chase Bebak-Miller ordered Cano to drop to the ground at that point. He fired the first of two shots a second later.

Cano died after three weeks in the hospital. The Maricopa County Attorney Office said the case is still under review and no decision has been reached to charge Bebak-Miller or not.

Duggan said they did make a change in how they report use of deadly force cases after the Cano shooting. He said that was the only change they made because of that case.

Chandler settled a lawsuit with Cano’s family for $1.125 million.

Michael Collins, the president of the Chandler Law Enforcement Association, agreed with Duggan that Chandler PD has been ahead of other departments around the nation.

“We’re constantly reforming what we do, and always have been,” Collins said. “I think our department has been at the forefront of trying to identify issues ahead of time and to mitigate them.”

Duggan and the other panelists were asked what did they think would be the biggest issue for police departments in the coming years.

He said recruitment will be an issue every department in the nation will be struggling with.

Duggan said attacks on officers are up around the nation. Also, officers’ reputations have been tarnished because of a few cases. That makes filling positions vacated by retirements very difficult.

“How many people out there are willing to be police officers today, and of those people, how many people out there are talented and qualified to be police officers today?” Duggan asked. “The pool is small and we’re competing with every chief in this Valley, every chief regionally for that very, very tiny pool of candidates.”